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Thursday, 29 September 2011

Parents and business - more than just helicopters?

This week I am helping out at my son's business. 


Tom is enjoying his honeymoon and his business partner is spending time with his brand new baby son. A double set of joys and testing for a small business.


In the spaces between managing the phone calls, I am struck by how much I am enjoying this glimpse of what Tom and Graham have created. It sheds new light on the man that our son has become.


Musing on this I realised that I have been given similar glimpses of my daughter in her professional role in PR in London. 


The first glimpse came when she and I were enjoying a gin and tonic on the South Bank. She was hailed by a group of people from one of the national arts organisations. One of them detached himself from the group to come and talk to her. I listened in as they engaged in banter and work talk. Latterly I had a meeting with Libby's boss, as it transpired we had similar interests in creative methods for organisational development.


We have 'Take your daughter and son to work day', so maybe 'Take your parents to work' is a logical follow on. It turns out this is not a new idea. 


There is a Facebook page trying to set this up. Others have run it as a one off idea, as a Wall Street Journal blog shows: http://blogs.wsj.com/juggle/2007/10/19/should-you-take-your-parents-to-work/.


Some recruiters and companies with graduate schemes are choosing to deal with the phenomenon of 'helicopter parents' by providing information packs (Enterprise Rent-a-Car) or even meeting them. Attracting the right talent is important to them and they recognise the influence that parents can have on their children's decision-making (www.prospects.net).


Employees' parents provide other untapped or unseen support for businesses: 


- parents, and their friends, are potential clients and customers;
- they are the ones ensuring that members of the workforce can still turn up for work when their children are ill or have school holidays;
- they play a key role to helping ensure members of the workforce are fit for work when their personal life is tough;
- they sometimes provide a sounding board or act as an advisor to their children about their work situations.


Any other examples of this potential being exploited by businesses?

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